The future of space exploration and the means that make possible expeditions throughout the cosmos has been recently discussed.
Marella Graziano, who is the executive director of Space Systems and Robotics at GMV, was also the chief of the Mission Analysis and System Engineering Department at GMV, has shared more information about the technology needed for space exploration in a recent interview.
Mars or the Moon?
When asked whether it is wise to spend lots of time and massive amounts of money to attempt getting to both those places, Graziano said that major space companies are trying to conquer places where humans could one day live, such as the Moon or Mars.
From her point of view, these cosmic bodies are vital for the future of space exploration for a number of reasons. The Moon is important due to its vicinity to us, and Mars is the only planet in our Solar System that could be a reasonable target for space research.
However, to get there, we need space technologies advanced enough to be sustainable. According to Graziano, the list of technologies required for the next big move in space can be massive and various, relying on the final aim. Launch vehicles are currently a limit for space exploration, overall, and even more so when it comes to human space quest.
However, we are still at the beginning with such resources, their utilization, and exploitation, as per the scientist.
When it comes to the Martian rovers, a definite factor is ‘giving them as much autonomy and long traverse capabilities as possible,’ Graziano said. The latter is obviously to be used for larger access to the planet’s surface. Moreover, onboard autonomy is also crucial in order to raise the scientific return as much as possible, as well as robustness and dependability, default resources optimization, and partnerships with astronauts.
The Next Big Move
Graziano was asked for a prediction of the next massive leap for humanity in space exploration. She said: “First of all, I hope we will be smart enough to protect our blue planet. I am confident that we will be back on the Moon, and we will stay longer. This would be once again a great step for humanity, also considering the boundary constraints we have, which are not the same than in 1969.”
She added that the space agencies’ projects that hope to learn how to deflect an asteroid in order to protect Earth would probably be successful in the next 50 years because we have gathered sufficient knowledge so far.
With regard to the interplanetary trade that will take place once we manage to settle on one of these cosmic objects, Graziano said the perspective is not a dream, but a feasible achievement.
“From my point of view, and with the actual technologies and associated costs, for the moment the reason to bring back from Moon and Mars product relies is a scientific objective more than a commercial one. There are countries and companies that are working towards the possibility for bringing back to Earth noble metals, such as nickel or platinum, from nearby asteroids, but this is still under study,” she explained.
Graziano also believes that in order to be more proficient, space agencies in the European sector need to collaborate with each other. Many institutes such as the EU, ESA, GSA, national agencies, industries, and academic centers have to ‘try to be more efficient and coordinated efforts as much as possible leaving a little bit aside part of those constraints, frequently introduced by national interests that do not allow Europe to act as a single entity.’